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W-League Week 8 Review: Kerr, Bledsoe shine

We look at the highlights from the Westfield W-League in Australia for Week 8, and update some news on Taylor Smith’s injury which she sustained in last week’s Newcastle Jets draw at Perth. 

Player of the Week—Sam Kerr (Perth Glory)

Sam Kerr scored from two second half headers in Perth Glory’s 2-1 win at home against Sydney FC on December 21 to take her league leading total to eight. Kerr was in devastating form and easily could have finished with four or five goals, just missing on clear chances that she created with her speed and guile. The win leaves Perth in a three way tie for first at the top of the table, with Brisbane and Melbourne Victory.

Goal of the Week—Rhali Dobson (Melbourne City)

Rhali Dobson of Melbourne City scored two goals in Melbourne City’s 3-0 home defeat of Canberra United on December 22 in front of crowd of 3,830, the W-League’s second largest crowd of the season. Her second goal in first half injury time (City’s third) was a stunner as she cut in from the right wing near the top of the penalty box and buried a laser shot into the far side of Australian youth international Sham Khamis’ net.

Dobson, 26 and capped once by the Matildas in 2014, opened her goals tally in her second season with City, and now has 12 in a nine year W-League career, seven of which were spent with the Newcastle Jets. The win by City pushed them up to fifth in the standings, just two points out of a playoff berth and reversed their opening round 2-0 defeat at Canberra on October 28 in the opening round of the season.

Save of the Week—Aubrey Bledsoe (Sydney FC)

Aubrey Bledsoe (Washington Spirit) kept Sydney FC with a chance of gaining points in their 2-1 loss versus Perth Glory, with the best stop coming when she dived to her right to save a powerful shot from Sam Kerr, who had dribbled past three defenders near the top of the box in the 40th minute.

Import of the Week—Veronica Latsko (Adelaide United)

Veronica Latsko, the Houston Dash loanee, continued to impress with her seventh goal of the season, in her first year in the W-League, as Adelaide United defeated previously high-flying Melbourne Victory 3-2 before 902 at home on Friday, December 21.

Adelaide’s Michelle Heyman and Emily Condon each scored their first goals of the season. The Reds were up 3-0 at the 77th minute mark but fought off a furious Melbourne fightback as the Victory scored two goals from the 87th minute on. Melbourne lost their second consecutive game by a single goal and is now joint first with Brisbane and Perth after leading the table by 5 points at the end of Round 5.

Other highlights:

The Power of Youth—Brisbane Roar’s Allira Toby scored the third Brisbane goal late in the match to seal her side’s 3-1 home win over the Western Sydney Wanderers on December 20. Toby took a cross from Carson Pickett (Orlando Pride) and brought the ball down with an excellent first touch as she steamed into the penalty box before blasting the ball home. Toby, 24 scored her 9th goal in 40 W-League matches over four seasons. With their second consecutive home win, after last week’s 4-3 defeat of Melbourne Victory, the Roar jumped into a three-way tie for first with the Victory and Glory at the end of the Round…

Indiah-Paige Riley scored the winning goal on her 17th birthday as the ball bounced off of her back in a scrum from Yuki Nagasato’s (Chicago Red Stars) corner. Riley, who was born in New Zealand but is an Australian youth international, said after the game that she didn’t realize that she had scored until her teammates congratulated her and that, “this was probably my best birthday present.” Head coach Mel Andreatta started Riley and two other teenagers, Anna Margraf (17) and Hollie Palmer (17), to compensate for starters Katrina Gorry (serving a suspension for two yellow cards against the Victory) and Orlando Pride loanee Chioma Ubogagu (injured).

Australian international and Portland Thorn loanee Haley Raso is back in training but not yet ready for competitive action. Celeste Boureille (Portland Thorns) was instrumental in midfield throughout the Roar win. With the double in games against the Wanderers this season, the Roar are now 9-0-3 (W-D-L) all time versus the New South Wales side.

Note: Newcastle Jets U.S. international import Taylor Smith (Washington Spirit) was our selection last week as Import of the Week, but she unfortunately is out indefinitely with an ACL injury that she suffered late in their 2-2 tie last week with Perth Glory. She was awarded the Club’s Westfield W-League Player of the Month award for November.

Jets head coach Craig Deans said: “Taylor has been key for us so far this season, and we anticipated she’d play a big role moving towards the finals series. She’s a fantastic person and it’s been great having her in the group, which makes this injury all the more upsetting. It’s devastating for us and for Taylor, and we’ll do everything we can to support her in recovering from this injury and getting back to her best.”

The Newcastle Jets had a bye this week but had scheduled two international friendlies against China’s women’s national team on the Gold Coast on December 20 and 23. China won the first match 2-0 with two first-half injury-time goals. Regular starters Katie Stengel (Utah Royals) and Australian internationals Gema Simon (ex-Ottawa Fury of the USL’s W-League) and Jenna Kingsley did not play as the Jets fielded reserves and younger players. Goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom (Portland Thorns) was a key factor in goal in keeping the Jets in the game.

China’s national women’s team opened their tour of Australia with a 2-0 win over Canberra United in Brisbane on December 13. Canberra’s first-year South African imports Refiloe Jane and Rhoda Mulaudzi (both in the Banyana Banyana pool) were able to do some scouting against a first-round Women’s World Cup Group B opponent that they are drawn with next summer in France.

Canberra coach Heather Garriock substituted all eleven starters at halftime to give all of her squad members action. Garriock expected China to play more technically but was surprised by their approach: “They played a little differently to how I’ve seen China play in the past; they were a bit more direct than expected. It was an amazing opportunity for us to play against international opposition, though, and get to see a different style of football and see where we stand.”

Australia’s Football Federation announced that the Matildas will host a four-team Cup of Nations Tournament in February/March, involving the women’s national teams of Argentina, Korea Republic and New Zealand along with the hosts, all of whom have qualified for the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France. The doubleheaders will take place on Feb. 28 in Sydney, March 3 in Brisbane and March 6 in Melbourne.

Australia


W

L

D

GF

GA

PTS
Perth Glory 3 0 4 19 12 13
Melbourne Victory 4 2 1 14 11 13
Brisbane Roar 4 2 1 11 11 13
Adelaide United 3 1 3 11 10 12
Melbourne City FC 3 3 1 12 12 10
Sydney FC 3 4 0 17 13 9
Canberra United 2 3 2 10 12 8
Newcastle Jets 2 3 1 6 8 7
Western Sydney Wanderers 0 6 1 4 15 1

Week 9 matches are:

Thursday, December 27: Canberra United vs Brisbane Roar, 3:30 a.m. EST
Friday, December 28: Melbourne Victory vs Perth Glory, 1:20 a.m. EST
Sunday, December 30: Adelaide United vs Melbourne Victory, 12:30 a.m. EST
Tuesday, January 1: Melbourne City vs Canberra United, 1:20 a.m. EST

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